For most of us, the winter holidays are a time of rest, reflection, comfort, and joy. It’s that time of year when families and friends come together, when all the streets, houses, and stores are decorated, when children sit snuggly by the fire reading bedtime stories and waiting for presents under the tree…Or at least, that’s how it used to be, before the pandemic came into our lives and changed everything.
It’s been a rough couple of years, and unfortunately, as 2021 comes to an end, we’re still not out of the woods yet. Some countries are still facing restrictions, while many people feel reluctant to travel and possibly expose themselves and their loved ones to Covid19. The truth is that, for many people, the winter holidays will be spent at home, chatting and catching up with loved ones via Zoom or Facetime. Some of us have also lost loved ones and might not have a big family or a big group of friends to enjoy the end of the year with. And for some, preparing dinner and buying gifts for a large family is more stressful than it is relaxing.
No matter what your situation is, the holidays and the start of a new year can bring about joy and excitement, but often also anxiety, sadness, and stress. That’s why we’re here to offer some tips on how to enjoy stress-free holidays this year, and make the best out of this winter.
1. Don’t compare yourself to others
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are often times of year when people try to outdo one another. From decorating the entire house, to cooking lavish dinners for 10+ people, to buying extravagant gifts and going on fabulous vacations, some people seem to be pulling all the stops. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, whether it’s your neighbor, your friend, or a celebrity on YouTube or TV. You don’t need fancy gifts and decorations to enjoy the holidays, that is not the point.
2. Be grateful for what you have
As we reflect back on the year that’s ending, we might be overcome with feelings of regret, of failure, of not having accomplished enough, or of not being good enough. It’s important to make a conscious effort to acknowledge the things you have accomplished, the family and friends who are there for you, the things you do have, and be grateful. Happiness and fulfilment are not about collecting things, making lots of money, or celebrating incredible milestones. You can be grateful for your family, for your home, for the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning – be grateful for the little things, and they’ll bring you more fulfilment than any material possession.
3. Take time to rest, relax, and recharge
The holidays can be incredibly overwhelming and even triggering for those of us suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues. The pressure to be joyful and get into the holiday spirit can send some of us into a spiral of anxiety, and make us feel guilty for not feeling overly excited during this time of year. That’s why it’s important to use these holidays to rest, to recover after a long year, and to enjoy the long nights by recharging and doing what makes you happy. If the pressure starts to get to you, acknowledge it and retreat to your cozy nest, snuggle up with a good book and some hot cocoa, and disconnect. It will do wonders for your mental health.
4. Don’t give into pressure
The holidays are a very busy and fruitful time for brands and advertisers, and you might find yourself bombarded with special offers, holiday promos, giveaways, and all kinds of sales. Stores and malls are packed with decorations, delicious foods, gifts, and holiday-themed everything. It’s easy to get carried away in all the shopping excitement and splurge on items that you don’t really need. Think carefully about your budget, the gifts you want to purchase for friends or family, and ‘splurge wisely.’ Think long and hard if you really need to have 10 different holiday-themed slippers or pajamas, and you’ll avoid going into panic mode at the end of the month.
5. Don’t set impossible New Year resolutions
We’ve all been there: we make a list of New Year resolutions, and we promise ourselves we’ll stick to it this time! Then January rolls in, then February, and we realize we’ve already started on the wrong foot. Or, we realize that the resolutions we set in December were completely unrealistic, but we still feel guilty about not accomplishing them. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to come up with a list of resolutions and stick to them, as you might be setting yourself up for failure. New Year resolutions are a good way of planning ahead, sure, but think of it more as a wishlist than as a list of things you simply have to get done. Because once you make that list compulsory, you will immediately start feeling the pressure, and it’s completely unnecessary.
Before you go…
The holidays should be a time for rest and recovery, and a time to look back on all the things we accomplished in the past year, while looking forward to new adventures in the next. If you feel yourself getting anxious, excessively stressed, or depressed during this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone and talk about it. You would be surprised to know how many people experience mental health issues during this time of year, due to all the outside pressure.
Reach out to a friend, a family member, or an experienced counselor or therapist who can help you navigate the holidays without getting overwhelmed. If you need someone to talk to or are looking for mental or spiritual advice, reach out to us at Miracle Activation Center. Our certified counselors are here for you, and you don’t have to go through this alone.